Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Now Here Is a Real Housing Crisis; And It Probably Won't Be Getting Better Anytime Soon

Forbidden to buy and sell houses, Cubans rely on informal exchange to look for a better location or something in a better condition. The bureaucratic machinery to manage these bartered trades is complicated, so many pay a "stimulus" to the bureaucrats at the Housing Institute to help the process move more quickly. There are specialists in finding each family what they need, called "exchangers," and it's an occupation at the edges of the law.

The illusion that Raul Castro would allow a real estate market has been vanishing after a year of the mandate. The Cuban leaders know that if they authorize it, citizens will redistribute themselves in a short time. Those who have convertible money will move to the best neighborhoods and those who earn only Cuban pesos will live on the periphery. The fact that there are not rich areas and poor areas is not because, as some believe, we've achieved social justice, but rather the inability to buy and sell houses. What they haven't been able to face is the people's creativity, which disguises the frequent acts of buying and selling as simple exchanges.

~Yoani Sanchez, Cuban blogger

Update: See related NY Times article "With a Whisper, Cuba’s Housing Market Booms" (January 28, 2008), thanks to Colin for the pointer


At 7/21/2009 8:51 AM, Blogger Colin said...

Related NYT article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/28/world/americas/28cuba.html

At 7/21/2009 8:56 AM, Blogger QT said...

Reminds one of what Deng Xiaping said that he had a choice between sharing wealth or sharing poverty. Unfortunately, the Castros have done the latter.

At 7/21/2009 9:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds a lot like a description of organ donation in the west...


At 7/21/2009 11:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds a lot like a description of organ donation in the west...

You mean west London? Of course, their health care system is very much like the Castro bros.


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